Dan – More on Base Training

In the last post I talked about the idea of Base Training throughout winter, the principle of registering longer than normal rides at a lower intensity.  There’s another training regimen that gets a lot of attention in the winter period, and that’s HIIT, an acronym that stands for High Intensity Interval Training.  This is, exactly what it sounds like.  Working set intervals at a high intensity in a structured session.  These sessions are often very structured, and are best done, for most people at least, on a turbo trainer or rollers.

Now, there’s a lot of literature about various training philosophies and a lot of authors have done very good work on how to structure training.  I’ve spent a lot of time trying to find the right method for me, and have tried a few different options, including Chris Carmichael’s “Time Crunched Cyclist” and the principles outlined in Joe Friel’s “The Cyclist’s Training Bible” (a fantastic book and an absolute must have in any cyclists library in my opinion).   And I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, a highly structured programme won’t work at this stage.

There are a few reasons for that, one being that I work unpredictable shifts, so I can’t plan more than about a week ahead other than holiday period.  The second, and for me, the most important is that cycling HAS to be fun.  That’s an absolute must for me.  I ride bikes because I enjoy it.  I regularly hit my highest heart rates smashing descents, or pushing as hard as I can through a fun set of turns.  If I get rid of the fun, and make it a chore, I won’t do it.  I am absolutely sure that I’m not the only one who feels like that.

What I will be doing is training to Heart Rate, so in this initial period of training up until around the end of February I will aim to keep my average ride Heart Rate around the 170bpm mark (My measured max heart rate in November was 205bpm).  At the end of February I’ll re-do my Max HR test, and dependant on the results I’ll re-calibrate that aim to allow for higher intensity sessions.

Using my average Heart Rate as a marker serves two purposes, the first is to prevent sessions from getting too hard over the winter and stop me from over-training or training at unsustainable levels.  Secondly it means that I can still fit intervals, climbs and hard efforts in to each ride, keeping the rides interesting and off-set it with easier periods elsewhere in the ride.

I’ve just added a set of Tanita Body Composition scales to my statistics armoury, so I’ll be providing some numbers from that at points throughout the season, to see how things develop.  But at present I sit at 57.6kg, with a body fat percentage of 6.5% at 5’7” tall.  I’m not setting any targets for these numbers at the moment, but they will provide an interesting narrative to my training progress.

I am looking to add a power meter to my armoury for statistics, however for now with the price of the meters currently, I’ll be making do with Heart Rate.  That may change later in the year though.